The President's Earth Day Call to Action

New York City -- In perhaps the most significant energy speech he has given to date, President Obama declared his preference today for legislation, not regulation, to address climate change. In his speech, touching on the whole panoply of energy issues, he also highlighted elements of the Recovery Act aiding clean energy, such as money for the smart grid, and discussed new initiatives to harvest offshore wind, tap water currents for energy and encourage states and localities to purchase clean energy vehicles.

A speech on energy and the environment is not unusual on Earth Day. What I found most interesting about the speech, however, is that the President unequivocally stated he is squarely behind a "market based cap" or cap and trade approach to limiting emissions as outlined in legislation recently proposed by House Energy and Commerce Chariman Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey. Saying he supports "comprehensive energy legislation", the President signaled this will be a major priority this year.

The fact is, this is precisely the form of leadership needed to move forward on clean energy. Absent real presidential leadership, the power of incumbency enjoyed by our existing, heavily regulated energy infrastructure could easily stymie efforts to reform the industry.

But reform energy we must if we are to make good on the economic promise of clean energy, let alone the benefits for our climate and security. Today's speech significantly increases the likelihood that America will move toward a clean energy future as opposed to giving into the inertia of the status quo.